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Copenhagen, 19 June 2012
EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting: 20-21 June in Copenhagen
The European Union and the United States will meet in Copenhagen on 20-21 June to discuss issues of common interest in the field of justice and home affairs. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström will represent the European Commission, while the Danish and Cypriot Ministers of Justice will attend on behalf of the EU Presidency. The United States will be represented by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Main agenda items:
1. Data protection
On 3 December 2010, the Council adopted the Commission’s negotiating directives for a personal data protection agreement between the European Union and the United States when cooperating to fight terrorism or crime. The aim is to ensure a high level of protection of personal information such as passenger data or financial information that is transferred as part of transatlantic cooperation in criminal matters. Negotiations on an agreement between the EU and U.S. were launched on 28 March 2011 (see MEMO/11/203) and are on-going. The last negotiation round took place in March 2012 (see MEMO/12/192 and Vice-President Reding's speech)
What is expected at this meeting? The EU and U.S. will assess progress made in the negotiations so far.
Commission position: The European Commission remains committed to concluding an EU-U.S. data protection agreement which provides a high level of protection for citizens. The agreement should establish enforceable rights for individuals whose data are being exchanged across the Atlantic and provide for appropriate redress mechanisms including judicial redress in case of these rights are in any way violated.
Background: The protection of personal data is set out in Article 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Lisbon Treaty (Article 16, Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) empowers the EU to adopt rules on the protection of personal data processed by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, and by the Member States when carrying out activities that fall within the scope of EU law.
The Commission further demonstrated its commitment to strengthening the fundamental right to the protection of personal data by proposing a major reform of the EU's current data protection rules, which date back to 1995 (see IP/12/46).
The European Parliament, in a resolution on 26 March 2009, called for an EU-U.S. agreement that ensures adequate protection of civil liberties and personal data protection. In December 2009, the European Council invited the Commission to propose a Recommendation "for the negotiation of data protection and, where necessary, data sharing agreements for law enforcement purposes with the U.S." On 26 May 2010 the Council adopted a draft negotiation mandate (IP/10/609) and negotiations were launched by the Commission on 28 March 2011.
2. Judicial cooperation in criminal matters
The EU and U.S. concluded two agreements to fight crime through judicial cooperation, which entered into force in 2010: one dealing with mutual legal assistance and the other with extradition. Both the EU and the U.S. are now in the process of implementing the agreements on both sides of the Atlantic.
What is expected at this meeting? The EU and the U.S. will discuss implementation of the agreements. A joint seminar to examine the matter in more detail is scheduled for 25-26 October in the Hague.
Commission position: These agreements are a success story for transatlantic judicial cooperation. But as the issues we face constantly evolve, there is a need to monitor implementation of the agreements. The Commission is prepared to further develop cooperation with US authorities, for example in the field of confiscation and asset recovery.
Background: The agreements on Extradition and on Mutual Legal Assistance between the European Union and the United States of America were signed on 25 June 2003. After the ratification procedure was concluded on both sides and the ratification instruments were exchanged during the EU-U.S. JHA Ministerial Troika meeting on 27-28 October 2009 in Washington, both Agreements entered into force on 1 February 2010.
Home Affairs Issues
1. Global Alliance to fight child sexual abuse online
The EU - US Justice and Home Affairs ministerial meeting will call upon governments around the world to participate in building a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online. This initiative seeks to unite decision-makers all around the world to better identify and assist victims and to prosecute the perpetrators.